Harout Bedrossian is a communications officer for Caritas Jerusalem. He’s been sending us frequent updates on the situation in Gaza. Here’s the latest.

We’re technically into day 8 of Operation Pillar of Cloud. I woke up very optimistic today after last night’s announcement of a ceasefire being brokered by Egypt, but was very disappointed when I switched on the T.V. this morning and found out that nothing had changed on the ground. The bloodshed, the madness, the slaughter of innocent children, women and civilians is still going on…

The ceasefire, which was announced from Cairo, was supposed to begin at midnight between Monday and Tuesday.

Some twenty minutes after the announcement, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) dropped leaflets in parts of Gaza urging people to evacuate their homes “immediately”.

“For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre,” leaflets dropped over Gaza City said.

The violence continues to escalate despite the glimmer of hope of a ceasefire. Israeli airstrikes have targeted an international media centre, the Islamic National Bank and a government compound in Gaza city. They also targeted a Hamas military leader. The death toll in the Strip rose to over 100, with many of them civilians.

Meanwhile, two rockets fired at Jerusalem landed in the southern Gush Etzion area, one directly adjacent to a Jewish community and the second in an area under PA control. Rocket fire out of Gaza waned slightly, to about 140 rockets shot at Israel over the day.

Palestinians hurled rocks and burned tires on the road near Ofrah and threw rocks against Israeli Defense Forse (IDF) soldiers in the Halhoul area, north of Hebron. About 500 Palestinian youths from Yata headed to the Southern Hebron Hills and began throwing rocks at Israeli motorists.

Water, food and medical supplies are still urgently needed in Gaza. Some 120 trucks carrying humanitarian aid intended for Gaza were to have crossed via the Kerem Shalom Crossing. After 24 trucks entered Gaza, the crossing was closed.
Maybe the news will be better when I wake up tomorrow….

Pope Benedict XVI called for a halt to violence between Israeli military forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Read more…